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Buy a map of the Skullkickers world at the Image Expo this weekend

The first Image Expo kicks off this Friday at the Oakland Convention Center, featuring panels, signings and creators galore from the publisher. And like all good conventions, there will be exclusives, like variant cover editions of Chew, Walking Dead and Artifacts, among others; a Hell Yeah ashcan; and the above map of the Skullkickers world, which we’re happy to show you sans the promotional text after the jump.

Created by professional cartographer Mike Schley, who worked with series writer Jim Zubkavich, the 18″ x 24″ map harkens back to the days when my brother and I had the World of Greyhawk map taped up on our wall, so we could plot the adventures of our Dungeons & Dragons characters across its danger-filled mountains and majestic plains. Click below to check it out in its full glory.

The Image Expo runs Feb. 24-26, where you can also meet Jim and have him sign your map.

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Comics A.M. | Neil Gaiman comments on end of Spawn dispute

Spawn #26

Legal | Neil Gaiman comments briefly on the settlement agreement that ends his decade-long legal dispute with Todd McFarlane over Medieval Spawn, Angela and Cogliostro, and a handful of derivative characters: “The main thing is, I feel like an awful lot of good things have come out of it. … I think the various decisions, particularly the [Judge] Posner decision, were huge in terms of what the nature of dual copyright in comics is. What is copyrightable in comics is now something that there is a definite legal precedent for. There were a lot of things that were … misty in copyright [law] that are now much clearer. And it’s of benefit to the creator.”

While the details of the settlement are confidential, it’s known that Gaiman and McFarlane now share ownership of Spawn #9 and #26, as well as the first three issues of an Angela spin-off series. [Comic Riffs]

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Read Skullkickers for free on Keenspot

The fantasy-action-comedy comic Skullkickers was one of the surprise hits of the past year, and now the creators are going to post the back issues on Keenspot. The web version starts out with two prequels, short stories that writer Jim Zubkavich and artist Chris Stevens created for Image’s Popgun Anthology.

While it may seem odd to post a comic for free while it’s still available for sale, this move makes a lot of sense: I’m guessing single issues that came out more than a year ago are no longer readily available (although digital editions still are at comiXology), but as the trades have sold pretty well, the creators may figure the value of the new readers who will come to the comic through Keenspot — and ultimately buy the print or digital editions — will more than compensate for any sales lost from those people who might have paid but decided to read Skullkickers for free instead.

This is a calculation every creator should make, because it may lead them to choose, as Zubkavich & Co. have done, to pre-empt the pirates and make their work available online on their own terms.

First Princeless collection to feature new Skullkickers crossover

Princeless/Skullkickers sketches

I’ve been meaning to check out Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin’s all-ages comic Princeless ever since reading an online review of it last month, and now it looks like my procrastination has paid off–Princeless: Save Yourself, the collection of the first volume, will include a new story featuring a Princeless/Skullkickers crossover by Skullkickers writer Jim Zubkavich and drawn by Goodwin.

You can see Goodwin’s sketches of the characters, from her Deviant Art site, above. The collection arrives in April.


Comics A.M. | More on Occupy Comics; New 52′s relative rankings

Occupy Comics

Comics | Matt Pizzolo discusses the Occupy Comics project, which raised more than $28,000 on Kickstarter: “The way the money is allocated is actually through the individual contributors. The artists and writers are all paid a proportional share of the revenue based on the number of pages they provide versus the total number of pages in the book, but all of the artists and writers are agreeing to donate that money to the protesters. Most contributors want to donate as a group to get the most bang for their buck, but they don’t have to — anyone can just take their share and hand it to the protesters at their local park if they want.” [The Morton Report]

Comics | Todd Allen compares the relative positions of DC’s New 52 titles in November with their September rankings; the November orders reflect the adjustments retailers made after seeing how the different titles sold in September. The results: Animal Man shot up by 10 slots, The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men sank by eight, but most titles only moved a few notches up or down. [The Beat]

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‘That’s high class comic pirate rock n’ roll’

Following a request from a scanlator for unlettered pages from Skullkickers to make the comic’s translation into Russian easier, creator Jim Zubkavich has stumbled across re-lettered versions of two covers from the popular Image series.

“This one blows my mind,” he wrote this morning on Twitter, indicating the cover of Issue 8. “They even translated the signs around their neck.” He later added, “That’s high class comic pirate rock n’ roll.”

Jim Zubkavich responds to Skullkickers scanlator

Jim Zubkavich’s Skullkickers, a lively action-comedy series about two monster-fighting mercenaries, has been one of the success stories of 2011 in the North American market, and now it turns out to have overseas fans as well. Last week, Zubkavich got an e-mail from someone named Roman who is translating Skullkickers into Russian, then carefully cleaning the English words out of the word balloons and replacing them with the new text. Roman actually e-mailed Zubkavich and asked if he would be willing to send unlettered pages to make the job easier.

“I have no idea how to properly respond to this,” Zubkavich wrote on Twitter. “I mean, I can’t send him page art like that, but it’s just so damn bizarre.” Zubkavich noted that he owns Skullkickers (which is published by Image), so he knows there are no plans for a Russian edition. A fascinating Twitter conversation followed, with Cameron Stewart arguing for sharing the files — “it may be ‘piracy’ but I’d reckon the goodwill you’d get from authorizing it is significant” — and Indigo Kelleigh expressing reservations: “But politely point out that him giving your work away for free makes it difficult for you to enter that market legitimately.”

Zubkavich is still mulling it over, but he shared his e-mail reply to Roman with Robot 6:

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NYCC | Skullkickers is coming to the World of Munchkin

Steve Jackson Games announced at New York Comic Con that it will roll out a Munchkin game next year based on Image Comics’ fantasy-adventure Skullkickers.

Created by Jim Zubkavich and Edwin Huang, the hit comic is described by the writer as “a sarcastically self-aware sword & sorcery action-comedy series starring two monster-mashing mercenaries who will do whatever it takes to get paid.”

Munchkin is a line of popular card games that take a humorous approach to traditional roleplaying games — its slogan is “kill the monster, steal the treasure, stab your buddy” — based on the concept of “munchkins,” immature players whose aim is simply to “win.”

A Munchkin game based on Axe Cop, the webcomic by Malachai Nicolle and Ethan Nicolle, was announced in March for a fall release.

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What Are You Reading? with Chris Butcher

Casanova: Avarita #1

Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Our special guest today is Chris Butcher.

Butcher is the manager of The Beguiling in Toronto and founder of The Toronto Comic Arts Festival. He’ll be at the UDON Booth #5037 and The Beguiling Original Art Sales Booth #1629 at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend.

To see what Chris and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …

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SDCC Wishlist | Skullkickers, panties and more

Skullkickers

The San Diego Comic-Con runs kicks off with a preview night on July 20, then runs July 21-24. If you are a comics creator or publisher, and you’re planning to bring something new to the con — a sketchbook, a print, a graphic novel debut, anything! — then we want to hear from you. Drop me an email and let me know if you’ll have something cool on hand that attendees should know about. Feel free to send any artwork as well.

This time around we have panties from Pantheon (seriously), more Mimoco, word of an announcement by Dark Horse, plans for Viz and Arcana, several Hasbro exclusives and more. So let’s get to it …

Skullkickers creators Jim Zubkavich and Edwin Huang will be at the Image Comics booth #2729, selling hardcovers of the first volume of Skullkickers with an SDCC-exclusive cover. You can find more details here.

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Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget

Batman Inc. #7

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Chris Mautner

If I had $15:

I’d pick up Batman Inc. #7 ($2.99) and that would be it, so afterwards I’d pat myself on the back for not blowing my whole $15.

If I had $30:

I’d go with Farm 54 ($25), a new hardbound collection of stories by the brother and sister team of Galit and Gilad Seliktar, courtesy of Fanfare/Ponent Mon. It’s basically a semi-autobiographical collection of tales capturing a young woman at various critical stages in her youth, adolescence and young adulthood, all done in a tentative, wispy watercolor. Lovely stuff to flip through, at the very least.

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Creator Q&A | Jim Zubkavich on Skullkickers‘ second story arc

Skullkickers #7

I spoke with writer Jim Zubkavich about Skullkickers, the Image Comics series created by him and artist Edwin Huang at the beginning of the year. With the book’s second story arc kicking off in issue #7 today, I thought I’d catch up with him on what he and Huang have planned for the two as-yet-unnamed (but that’s about to change) mercenaries in the book.

The solicitation text for issue #7 says: “After the events collected in Image’s hit trade paperback SKULLKICKERS, VOL. 1, the second SK adventure begins here! In this issue: a den of thieves, a city of danger, nobility, stupidity, dinner parties and bloodthirsty faerie folk. Jump onboard and see why Ain’t It Cool News says: ‘Everyone who loves comics should buy Skullkickers.’”

My thanks to Jim for doing this interview this week, especially considering he’s on his honeymoon right now. Congrats to the happy couple on their recent nuptials!

JK: I was going to ask you to fill in anyone who hadn’t read the first six issues on what exactly happened, but you guys do that quite well in the first two pages of the preview CBR has up of issue #7. So instead I’ll ask you to tell me about the lady who gives the intro — who is she?

Jim: She’s a new mystery character whose influence is going to be felt in the second arc in some subtle ways. I know it’s hard to imagine anything about Skullkickers being “subtle”, but it’s true. I’m not ready to tip my hand on her just yet, but I think readers will enjoy what she brings to the mix with our two monster-mashing mercenaries.

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Kickin’ the Gun #2: Bunn, Zubkavich on Marvel and DC, creator-owned comics and more

As I noted yesterday, I’m a fan of both Image’s Skullkickers and Oni’s The Sixth Gun. So when I saw that the two creator-owned books were having a mini-crossover of sorts — or, to be more specific, an ad swap — I thought it might be fun to see if Skullkickers writer Jim “Zub” Zubkavich and The Sixth Gun writer Cullen Bunn might be up for interviewing each other.

And they were. If you missed part one, no worries; you can find it here. In part two, they discuss Marvel and DC, the recent focus on creator-owned comics, Dungeons & Dragons, their ad swap and more.

Zub: So, speaking of collaborators, how did your DC and Marvel work come about?

Cullen: I did a little thing for Marvel a year and a half ago, which was one of the Immortal Weapons books. That one came after I sent the editor a copy of The Damned. He finally got around to reading it and said, “Hey, you want to do this one-shot?” The new stuff all came about primarily through The Sixth Gun. A number of writers, artists and editors have picked it up, read it and either pushed me to their editors or thought I would work for other projects they had. It was definitely weird because I’m not used to anyone contacting me. I’m used to begging for work. For years I’ve gone to San Diego, and it’s the most humbling experience.

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Kickin’ the Gun #1: Bunn, Zubkavich on Skullkickers, Sixth Gun, process and more

Cullen Bunn and Jim Zubkavich

Many who have been following this blog know I’m a fan of both Image’s Skullkickers and Oni’s The Sixth Gun. So when I saw that the two creator-owned books were having a mini-crossover of sorts — or, to be more specific, an ad swap — I thought it might be fun to see if Skullkickers writer Jim “Zub” Zubkavich and The Sixth Gun writer Cullen Bunn might be up for interviewing each other.

So the duo hit Skype and had a long conversation that covered many different topics — how they pitched their books, their writing process, how they work with their artists, finding time to write and much more. My thanks to both Cullen and Jim for doing this, with an extra tip of the hat to Jim for transcribing it. Be sure to check back tomorrow for the second part of the interview.

*****

Zub: So, let’s start right off with the big news. Did I hear correctly that you’re now writing full time? You quit your day job?

Cullen: I did. This is my third week as a full-time writer.

Zub: Awesome. What were you doing before that?

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Creator-Owned Spotlight #2 by Steve Niles

artwork by Stephanie Buscema

Creator-Owned Spotlight

Editor’s Note: With the recent discussions going on around the comics community about creator-owned comics, we’re pleased to welcome one of the voices in those discussions, 30 Days of Night and Mystery Society creator Steve Niles, to Robot 6 for a series of columns on creator-owned comics.

by Steve Niles

Second column and I’m already late! Here’s a creator tip I can’t seem to get through my thick skull: Don’t bite off more than you can chew. That said, here I am again and happy to be here talking about my favorite creator-owned books and creators.

This week I’m going to talk about a creator who dominates the modern creator-owned scene with both his work and his relentless support of other creators.

WARREN ELLIS

I wanted to talk about Ellis for many reasons: his talent, his persistence and his vision. Warren Ellis approaches his work with the strategy of a learned zombie killer. Don’t run into the stinky crowd swinging and shooting like a crazy person, find a place to settle in and let them come to you.

Warren Ellis has not only created worlds within his work, but also a world for himself online where you can follow his daily work routine, check out what he’s reading/watching himself, or meet and discuss his and other people’s work on the various forums he’s overseen. He has created a perfect fort for all of us Ellis zombies to swarm.

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